Star columnist Greg Hansen counts down the most prominent sports figures in Southern Arizona from 2018. Find out who makes the cut.
20. Jacqulynn Nakai
In her freshman season at Pima College, the point guard from Flagstaff was named the ACCAC Player of the Year and a first-team NJCAA Division II All-American, averaging 17.7 points for a 23-9 team. Nakai averaged 22.2 points through the first six weeks of this season.
19. Levi Wallace
Undrafted after a stellar career for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the former Tucson High defensive back made the Buffalo Bills roster and started five straight games through Dec. 23, making 18 tackles.
18. J.J. Taylor
Arizona’s sophomore running back was the UA’s lone All-Pac-12 first team selection, rushing for 1,432 yards.
17. Haley Moore
First team All-Pac-12 golfer; few golfers of 2018 topped Moore’s clutch 18th-hole putt to win the NCAA championship for the UA.
16. Bijan Robinson
Winner of Arizona’s top high school football honor, the Ed Doherty Award, Salpointe’s junior running back gained exactly 2,400 yards and scored 35 touchdowns for the 13-1 Lancers.
15. Bryce Cotton
The 2018 MVP of the Australian pro basketball league, Cotton, a Palo Verde High School grad, is leading the league in scoring this season. He is averaging 23.3 points per game for the Perth Wildcats.
14. Jordan Geist
In his freshman year at Arizona, Geist swept the Pac-12 shot put and discus events, was named the male athlete of the Pac-12 championships, and then finished fifth in the NCAA indoor and outdoor shot put, breaking the school record in the process.
13. Bob Hoffman
The president of the Tucson Roadrunners directed the franchise to an AHL Pacific Division championship with a 42-20-5-1 overall record and to the second round of the AHL playoffs. The club drew more than 136,000 fans at Tucson Arena.
12. Andy Trouard
In his final season at NAU, Trouard, a Salpointe Catholic grad, won an NCAA indoor championship in the 3,000 meters and finished fourth in the NCAA 5,000 outdoor championship. And he also broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile run.
11. George Cunningham
An All-Pac-12 first team golfer as a UA senior, the Tucson product then stepped it up a notch, finishing No. 2 on the Canadian Tour money list. He earned more than $65,000 in two PGA Tour events, clinching his Web.com Tour card for the 2019 season.
10. Sarah Sellers
A nurse anesthetist at Banner Health UMC, Sellers finished second in the Boston Marathon to put her name on the map for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
9. Bianca Pagdanganan
Not only did the UA junior from the Philippines finish second in the NCAA women’s golf finals, it was her epic 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole that propelled the Wildcats into the final group of eight teams.
8. Deandre Ayton
In his lone season at Arizona, Ayton was the Pac-12 player of the year, averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. The Suns took him No. 1 overall in the NBA draft.
7. Brian Peabody
Pima College’s men’s basketball coach guided the Aztecs to the NJCAA championship game, 31-5 overall, leading the nation with 102 points per game.
6. Blake Martinez
In his third season as Green Bay’s starting middle linebacker, the CDO and Stanford grad shined. Martinez is ranked No. 2 in the NFL with 132 tackles through Dec. 23; his total of 276 tackles the last two seasons is tops in pro football.
5. Craig Bjornson
In his first year as Boston's bullpen coach, Bjornson, a Tucson High grad, helped the Red Sox win the World Series with a franchise-record 108 victories.
4. Dave Cosgrove
Pima College’s Hall of Fame men’s soccer coach produced the year of his life: 28-2 overall, finishing with 18 consecutive victories and the NJCAA championship.
3. Roman Bravo-Young
Not only did Bravo-Young complete his Sunnyside wrestling career with an Arizona record 182-0 career and four state titles, he opened the year 7-0 for Penn State, the nation’s No. 1 ranked college wrestling team.
2. Hugo Kametani
The Pima College sophomore scored dramatic game-winning goals in the NJCAA semifinals and final, and was named the national player of the year. His 30 goals in 28 games were the second most in the country.
1. Laura Ianello
Arizona’s women’s golf coach piloted her team to the NCAA championship.
Greg graduated from Utah State, worked at two Utah newspapers, the St. Petersburg Times, the Albany Democrat-Herald in Oregon and moved to Tucson to cover UA football and baseball. He became the Star's sports columnist in 1984.